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Audio captured from a very interesting taping of one of America's favorite game shows:

Ol' Bob's at it again.

"OK, welcome everybody to another edition of Jeopardy!. Before we start playing, let's meet our contestants today. Let's start with Deborah Sillinger from Dearborne, Michigan. You are an interior designer, correct?"

"Yes, that's correct Alex. I've been doing it for fourteen years now."

"I'd like to do you for fourteen years!"

"Now, Bob, that was inappropriate. Come on."


"I guess we'll go to you next. Here we have Bob Casey from St. Louis, Missouri. Bob, it says here you're in sales. What do you sell?"


"Care to elaborate?"



"OoooK, moving right along. Next is Francis Ballman from Los Angeles, California. It says here you are a history professor at UCLA."

"Yes, that's correct, Alex. I teach in-depth classes on American history to mostly freshman."

"Good. Great. OK now that we've met our contestants, let's look at the subjects for the first round. We have 'What's In A Name?,' 'Historical Places,' 'On The Map,' 'Famous Psychologists,' and 'Star Trek.' Deborah, we'll start with you."

"I'd like 'What's In A Name' for one hundred, Alex."

"'The real name of this famous nineteenth century author, otherwise known as Mark Twain.'"

"Who is Samuel Clemens?"

"Correct! Select again, please."

"I'd like Italian Porn Stars for a thousand, Alex!"

"Bob, I'm afraid it's not your turn. That's not one of the subjects anyway! Now, please, Deborah, select again."

"Uhhh, 'What's In A Name' for two hundred, please."

"Who is Cunni Linguini, Alex?

"Bob, it's not your turn. Now, onto Deborah's choice: 'Non-horrible stories written by this author were published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.'"

"Who is Stephen King?"

"Correct, Francis. Select a category."

"How about 'Gay names' for four hundred?!"

"It isn't your turn, Bob!"

"Uhh, um, I'll take 'On The Map' for one hundred."

"'This state, home of former President Clinton, borders Missouri to the north.'"

"What is ARKANSAS, Alex?!"

"Well, that's correct, Bob, but I'm afraid that you didn't hit your button in time, Deborah --"


"Sorry, Bob, but Deborah hit her button first."

"What is Arkansas, Alex?"

"Correct. Now--"

"She stole my answer! She didn't know! Bull shit!"

"I'll take 'What's In A Name' for three hundred, Alex."

"I'll take 'Deborah is a fucking bitch' for five thousand, Alex!"

"Settle down, Bob! OK. Um, here's the answer: 'The company CISCO is short for this city's name, not an acronym as popularly believed.'"

"What is San Francisco, Alex?!"

"You are correct, Bob! You were quick enough with the buzzer this time. Select a category, please!"

"Hey, Alex, can I ask you a question?"

"Well, uh, sure, you--"

"Why'd you shave your moustache?"

"Well, I, uh, did it on a whim, you see, just to see what it would look like on camera one day right before taping the last show of the day. Now, select a category."

"I'll bet it got in the way of some things, that's the real reason."

"Look, just pick a category, let's move things along--"

"I'll bet your boyfriend liked it --"

"Listen, I don't have a boyfriend, all right. Now choose!"

"Geez, OK. I guess I'll choose. 'How Many Dicks Has Alex Trebek Sucked' for a hundred, please."

"Must you be so offensive, Bob? Listen, please select a real category!"

"I'll take 'Star Trek for one hundred then!"

"Here's the answer: 'Although not in the original pilot, this actor became the main star of the original series playing Captain James T. Kirk.'"

"Who is William Shatner, baby!"

"Correct, Bob. Select again, please."

"'Star Trek' for two!"

"'From 1987 to 1994, this English actor, whos first love is the stage, played Captain Jean Luc Picard in the updated Star Trek: The Next Generation.'"

"Patrick Stewart, Alex!"

"Oooo, I'm sorry, Bob, you didn't put it in the form of a question..."


"Sorry, Bob. OK, Deborah?"

"She'll take 'My Name is Deborah and I've Got Small Tits and I'm A Skank Ho' for five hundred!"

"Bob, you are the most offensive man I've ever met! Good lord! Who is Patrick Stewart?"

"I'd like to ram it up your ass, Deborah, and give you a dirty sanchez, put that in the form of a question!"

"Uhh, c-correct, D-Deborah, please, j-just select again. Quickly."

"I'll take 'Historical Places' for--"

"Hey, Francis, can you tell me how Alex's dick tastes now that he's shaved his moustache?"

"For the love of god, Bob! I haven't sucked his dick!"

"Get the fire hose, we've got a flamer here, Alex!"

"'Historical Places' for three hundred!"

"The place where Francis historically fucked Alex Trebek. Why, that would be 'What is the cornhole?' Ho ho!"

"Jesus Christ! OK, Deborah, your answer is--"

"Hey, I put in the form of a ques--!"

"--look at this! It's the Daily Double. It's a special photo Daily Double. Deborah, please tell us what this place is:"

"What is the Sahara Desert, Alex?"


"Is that where Deborah's camel toe is, Alex?! She's got quite a big one goin' on!"

"All right, Bob, THAT'S ENOUGH! I cannot let you continue to be a contestant on this--!"

"Hey, Alex, I'll take 'Let's All Titty Fuck Deborah' for five dollars!"

"All right. Security! Get this man out of here!"

"'This woman loves fisting and frotting!' Why, that's 'Who is Deborah?' Correct! The next answer is 'The biggest dick Alex Trebek has sucked with his hairless lip!'

"Yes, right here, this one!"

"'A Fourteen Inch Dick!' Wait! I know the question! 'What does Bob have and you don't, Alex?!' Yeeeeuggg! Let go of me! Agh!"

"Get him out of here!"

"Worship my...ugh!...COCK! Worship it, Alex!
Wooorrrsssship my cooooooooock!

"Deborah and Francis, I apologize for this. I frankly don't know how he got on this show. Now, where were we...?"

My mother died today at 7:45 a.m. I had just come home from the hospital; I'd stayed with her from 10 p.m. until just past 7 a.m., when my retired physician dad came to her room, took one look at her and shooed me away.

She didn't seem nearly as sick last night as she was the night before. Last night, she seemed stronger; I honestly thought she'd live another day.

Night before last, I stayed with her from 9 p.m. 'til 6 a.m., and she horrifyingly sick. Her blood wouldn't clot; she had an awful nosebleed that wouldn't stop and slowly filled her lungs with blood, she was bleeding from the dialysis port in her neck, bleeding from the places they'd stuck her to take blood, bleeding internally.

I came home with my mom's blood in my hair, and discovered my silly little badger piece had been Slashdotted. Totally surreal, but it lifted my spirits nonetheless. After watching my mom all night, listening to the suffocating gurgle in her chest, watching her pain as they suctioned bloody gunk out of her, watching them change her linens and gown five freaking times because she couldn't stop bleeding ... being flamed by Slashdotters was hilarious. I got a good giggle out of the whole thing, which I needed.

Not much laughter today. My parent's old tomcat, Roscoe, started howling around 4 a.m. and hasn't really let up. Somehow he knew momma wasn't coming back.

What killed her? The cancer, ultimately; it was inoperable, and chemo failed her. But last week she caught cryptosporidium, and we wasted precious days thinking it was just nausea from the chemo or the tumors. She was severely dehydrated when we got her to the ER at 4 a.m. Saturday. She was starving, and we couldn't get her to eat anything. Then her kidneys started failing. Then the bleeding. And last night, she developed pneumonia.

She fought it, hard, for five long days. But there was just too much wrong with her.

I feel simultaneously relieved and cheated that I wasn't there when she died.

Services here in San Angelo on Saturday, but she wants her ashes buried in Townsville in South Carolina. She was always my connection to the distant relatives back East; maybe I can make connections of my own, finally.

I am going to miss her so fucking much. She was a great person, a sweet old Southern lady who had a kind word for everyone but who would take on the Devil himself for what she belived in.

Random facts about my mom:

  • She was a very good amateur tennis player, even though she didn't learn how until she was in her 30s. When she was in her early 40s, she was actually nationally-seeded.

  • She loved opera and theater and the arts

  • She used to be an amateur actress, but that was long ago. I wished I had gotten to see her in a play

  • Her father died at the age of 21, before she was even born. Her 19-year-old mother gave her to her dead husband's family to raise, and my mother grew up in the rural South in the middle of the Great Depression.

  • She worked for over 40 years for the Social Security Administration, and worked very hard to help people, often putting in 10 or more hours of unpaid overtime a week. Having worked for the gummint myself, I am amazed she kept up that kind of dedication for so long.

  • She was a direct descendant of Andrew Pickens, who was roughly the basis for Mel Gibson's character in The Patriot.

  • She was incredibly supportive of my desire to become a writer, and I'm sad I couldn't get a book published in time for her to see.

  • She really wanted grandkids, would have made an awesome grandmother, and I'm heartbroken I didn't have the wherewithal get her any.

Rest in peace, ma.

Good Friday Update

I've been overwhelmed by the messages I've gotten from Everythingians -- you guys are great.

Some have commented that she sounds like she was a very kind person -- she was. If you've ever watched "Courage the Cowardly Dog", Muriel and Eustace are like a cartoon version of my folks. My dad is less like Eustace (picture him intellectual and artistic and way less evil) but my mom was very much like Muriel.

I don't want to leave E2.
I don't want to leave the library, go down the Basser Steps, and meet my parents in front of NIDA. I don't want them to see the play I wrote in a night and directed in a week. I don't want them to see the plays of my friends, or tell me its inappropriate but laugh at the jokes. I don't want Dad to impress my actors with his stories at NIDA and then leave with a wink, telling me to have a good time at the pub.

I don't want to go to the pub. I don't want to drink. My actors deserve the round i'll shout them, but I don't want to toast them. I don't want to put And She Was on the video jukebox in honor of the Talking Heads reference in my play. I don't want to try chatting up one of my friends. I don't want to try and fail to have a normal conversation with the cute indie girl techie. I don't want to navigate people I don't know to take a piss. I don't want to smile.

I want to go home, put on Elvis Costello, sob, and sleep. Tommorow I'll wake up and pretend I'm the main character in my play, confident and stupid and in love with music. Tommorow I'll go to work and serve beer and go to an RPG con and have fun. Not tonight. I don't want to have fun tonight.

My parents just called. Its time to go.

I think I almost had a weakness

It was over a year ago.
She isn't worth the pain.

I got out of my car and walked across the parking lot. I climbed the steel and concrete stairs to her apartment, three flights up. Slightly winded from the climb, I walked down the hallway toward her door, watching the moths buzz silently around the lights.

It was over a year ago.
She isn't worth the pain.

When I knocked on the door and she didn't answer, I knew something was wrong. Fifteen minutes ago, on the phone, she had told me "if I don't answer, I'm probably asleep. Come on in." So I did.

I walked into the dark living room, crossed the familiar steps to her room and opened the door. I turned on the lights and stepped back: he was there with her. They lay naked, asleep on top the covers, and woke up only to my shocked scream.

I ran, fighting the bile rising in my stomach. I felt my hand punch through the light-switch cover in my frantic dash for the door. I charged blindly down the stairs toward my car, tears streaming from my eyes. In what seemed like an instant, I was collapsed, face down, on the trunk of my car, paralyzed, unable to cry.

By the time she came out, I was done crying. I had finished crying for her. I don't remember what she said. I know I decided I would never cry for her again. I saw him walk tentatively down the stairs, and I knew then that I could never call him a friend, ever again.

She took him home, and we talked. We talked, and I drank. I drank myself into oblivion. I drank because I couldn't see the future - any future. I drank because I wanted to kill the pain. It refused to die. I left.

More than a year later now, I can't get the image out of my head. I keep picturing them lying there together, blissfully asleep. I hate myself for making sacrifices, for forgiving her again and again, for loving her. I hate myself for not seeing before how worthless she really was. I hate myself because even after that night, I kept struggling to find something in her worth loving her for. There was nothing. More than anything else, I hate myself for how I reacted. I wish I had been able to walk into that room, grab him by his hair, and beat him within an inch of his life. I hate myself for wishing I had done the wrong thing.

It's more than a year later.

(From the C'mon dude, I had to tell SOMEBODY, so I might as well tell the family department)

See, there's this girl.

(oh boy, here we go...)

Shaddap you. This is a good story.


Better. Anyway. There's this girl I've been talking to online and off for a week. I haven't met her. I know practically nothing about her except that I really, really, really like her.

How do I know this? I've proofread her papers. This is not a euphemism for sex of any kind. I've quite seriously proofread her finals. Yes, I did this for fun. Yes, I'm strange.

I'm glad I did it. Her brain makes me go all squishy.

I'm meeting her for the first time tonight. Because my social skills are better online and on the phone than they are in person, I needed an ice-breaker. So I made her a CD. This is it. May you find it illuminating.

Brought to you by the guy standing behind the suave motherfucker standing in front of you. The one with the glasses and the annoyingly plaid shirt. Yeah, him.

    Title: The Proofreader's Opening Volley

  1. Frank SInatra - I Love Paris (The Select Cole Porter)
  2. Jude - Love Letters (430 Harper Ave.)
  3. Josh Dodes - Wasted By Your Door (Freak)
  4. Save Ferris - Come On Eileen (It Means Everything)
  5. Jack Johnson - Traffic in the Sky (On and On)
  6. Randy Newman - Sail Away (The Randy Newman Songbook, Vol. 1)
  7. The Holy Cole Trio with Wayne Shorter - Losing My Mind (Color and Light - Jazz Sketches on Sondheim)
  8. Fighting Gravity - Mission Bells (Forever = One Day)
  9. Great Big Sea - Trois Navires de Ble (Turn)
  10. Richard Thompson - Train Don't Leave (You? Me? Us?)
  11. Bruce Hornsby - White Wheeled Limousine (Hot House)
  12. Shades Apart - One Starry Night (Eyewitness)
  13. The Who - Who Are You (The Who's Greatest Hits)
  14. Billy Bragg - Accident Waiting to Happen (Live at the World Cafe, Volume 11)
  15. The Old 97's - Barrier Reef (Too Far to Care)
  16. Robbie Fulks - Let's Kill Saturday Night (Let's Kill Saturday Night)
  17. Aimee Mann - Save Me (The Magnolia Soundtrack)

My weight's 185 today. Neat. Looks like we're stabilizing. Still want to nudge downward a bit, but it seems achievable now.

Still no sleep since Monday, 4:00pm. This goes beyond insomnia at this point; I think something has finally broken inside me and that thing helped me sleep. Anymore, it's not anything specific that "keeps me awake". Sure, I still worry about stuf and get angry, sad, scared, lonely, etc. But now, it seems like I just don't get sleepy. It won't be long before I just eventually pass out and get the rest I need, but right now sleepiness just doesn't come to me.

I am starting to realize I'm feeling some stuff I probably didn't want to see in myself. I think recognizing it might be a good step in trying to resolve some of it and get through it.

I'm hurt, lonely, and all that fun stuff, sure, but there's more. Oh joy. :)

I'm fucking angry. I'm angry at two people in particular right now. I'm angry at her for telling me it was over with him then changing her mind, changing her mind again back to me, then finally changing it back to him again. I'm angry at her for making me feel as though the worst thing I've ever gone through in my life (my divorce back in January) would turn into the best thing ever in my life (being with Erica for the long-term, possibly even for life), then taking that away from me.

I'm angry at him for everything he's done to her, and for sticking around even after their breakup like that annoying kid down the street who won't ever really leave you alone. I'm angry at him for taking her back, for still being available to her even after everything they've done to each other. I'm not thrilled with the things he has to say about me, either.

What I'm most angry at is the advice I get from her sometimes. I am not good at openly expressing frustration without just being sarcastic or spiteful. I know she offers advice honestly and that she really is trying to help me. The problem is, it feels like sometimes she is still twisting the knife with every word.

The big thing is this: she tells me she's sure I'll find somebody, that I'll heal, that I'll become a better person. She's sure that I'll make new friends and get settled in quickly in my new home wherever that ends up being.

That's all well and good, but here's what sucks about all that: I'm sure she still hurts from all this too, but she is with the person she wants to be with. There is pain in her heart, but the man she wants to spend her life with is right there, with her, ready to spend his life with her, to help her through that pain. She has friends. She has coworkers. She has the mate she wants.

I have none of that. I risk sounding incredibly cocky and self-centered by saying this, but I suspect I have a hell of a lot more, and deeper, wounds to heal from all this than she does (after all, she hasn't lost anyone or anything, now has she?). I need some kind of support structure around me to rely upon right now. The kind of hurt she experiences is different from mine -- or perhaps mine has more elements to it. We're both hurting, I'm sure, from the decision to call it off between us romantically. If she really feels about me the way she says she does, I'm sure it still hurts. Thing is, she's got who she wants. I've just lost who I wanted. I have to cope with my divorce, and now cope with losing this relationship, and I get to do it alone.

That is fucking bullshit.

I have gained, just through that rant above, a deeper understanding of my current sleep issues. I don't sleep anymore because my mind's too busy to bother. But I also don't sleep because I just don't care about myself anymore.

It's weird to admit this, but I honestly think I've just given up. I was clinging to a hope for awhile (through much of March) that she'd change her mind again, and things would get better again. She didn't. They didn't. I gave that up.

I was clinging to a hope for awhile that I could turn myself around financially. Tomorrow, State Farm will try to pull $195 or so from my checking account to cover insurance for April. It's not there to be pulled. Tomorrow, my car payment of $474 will be due. It won't be paid, because a check written on my account to make that payment won't be honored by my credit union. Tomorrow, all my credit cards (except NextCard) will be past-due for the month by at least a few days. I have $35 or so left in my checking account, and the cards are all maxed (and soon to be disabled anyway). I no longer even have enough money left for that whole "one last desperate shot at having some fun first before slinking back home to my parents" idea. I was clinging to a hope that I could clean all that up. I couldn't. I've given that up.

I was clinging to a hope that something, anything, would happen to help make this mess easier, better, or go away. Of course it didn't. I gave that up.

I was clinging to a hope that I would be able to heal these deep wounds, at least a litte, so I could get on with life. It still hurts just as bad right now as it did when it first hit me. I've given that hope up too. More alarmingly these days I find myself wanting to inflict more injuries on myself -- to pile pain upon pain upon pain until I finally hit that blissful threshold where I no longer feel pain.

I have explored the spirituality option, and it has left me feeling as empty and alone as everything else does. Either God doesn't exist, isn't listening to me, isn't talking to me, isn't willing to help me, or I'm unable (or unwilling) to hear or listen. Fair enough. Y'know, God, if you really do exist, I'm not pissed at you anymore. This is my lot in life. If you've been trying to get hold of me but I just haven't been listening, that's not your fault. Sorry I'm giving up.

Regardless, spirituality isn't the answer. Companionship isn't apparently going to be an option either -- I'm already an unwanted third wheel here, and a disgruntled, depressed, lonely divorcee is the last thing any reasonably sane person wants to take into their lives. Introspection isn't going to help me much -- I loathe myself. I hate everything about myself, and whenever I wander into the cave of my soul the demons I've created and put there myself bite my head off for even trying to enter.

So that's it. I quit on me. I'm done. It's over. I'm not going to take care of myself anymore. I'm going to stay faithful to the commitments I've made to others (my employer, for example), and I will do my best to do what's right for other people, but this charred lump of heart and soul left here in this body are just fucked. I've given them many chances, and every time it's failed. So screw it.

All that's left in there is a little flicker of love and caring for other folks, so I'll just get that out of the way now so I can shut the door on the emotional stuff entirely.

I still love Erica deeply. That's still the strongest emotion I feel whenever I allow myself to feel anything. As jealous as I am of how well things are working out for her (partially at my expense and partially by being sacrificed myself for it to happen), I am glad she is happy. I honestly hope she stays happy. I'm even happy for him, too. He's a lucky guy getting such a special woman.

I still love my ex-wife, and to this day I still worry about whether she'll make it on her own or not. I'm happy for her that she's got that guy she's sleeping with now; at least she isn't alone.

I hope everyone I leave behind finds a happier, better life without me than they would have with me. I will make arrangements to take care of everyone I care about before my time comes, and I will make things as sterile as possible. I don't want to burden anyone with dealing with my leftovers, whether it's my "estate", my wrecked worthless carcass, or my belongings.

With all that out of the way, I think I'm done. I'm going to go stand outside now and watch one last sunrise before I switch off the feelings forever and get on with taking care of things.

And no, Erica, I'm not quitting my job. As I've said to you from the beginning, only two things will ever make me leave your side: your asking me to, or my death. As long as I am able, I will be there for you. If you believe anything else you read in this entry, you shouldn't have any trouble believing this part.

...an update...

Well, I watched the sunrise. The ocean was pretty. It was neat.

The last of my "heart" wants me to remind the world that it isn't too late to prove me wrong. This whole posting (and my previous one) isn't a "crying out for help" ... it is honestly how I feel.

I think it's important, though, for me to just come out and say that I will still accept help if it's offered to me. All that I long for is gone, but I will still glady take it back if it comes.

Whether it's someone just holding me for hours, playing with my hair, talking gently and soothingly to me and reassuring me it'll all work out, or a woman offering me a night of sexual intimacy to help take my mind off things and make me feel good again with physical pleasure, or someone listening to me rattling on and on without arguing, if someone wants to offer it, I'll take it.

I don't honestly believe people care enough; I know it's fun to say you'll be there even at the worst times but it's harder to actually do it. I think part of me still wants to be rescued. Part of me desperately wants somebody to stand there and say "No, I'm not letting you fall apart!" and actually show up and "save" me. It'd be nice to have it happen, but my heart, much as it hopes for that, knows it probably won't.

I owe it to myself to ask just one last time, before I completely give up.

Please. Somebody. Anybody. Help me.

I need love, hope, intimacy, hugs, reassurance, and some kind of fucking human contact. I need to feel like I'm not alone.

So I'm playing Mario Kart: Double Dash!! with Erica while we digest our dinners, shortly before she goes back to studying for her Biochemistry exam.

A minor digression: We're pretty good at this game, she and I. The game permits two players to divide the tasks of "driver" and "gunner", much in the fashion of snowspeeders in The Empire Strikes Back. Communication is important; luck is important; being able to sense your teammate's next move is important. We work well together, with the easy, practiced synergy of lovers. We're not perfect, but we're getting there. She uses the standard controller; I use a wireless Wavebird. We've been playing for months, and it shows.

Our latest goal has been to get a perfect score on each of the Grand Prix cup races in the game. For four of the cups, this means we have to finish first of eight karts in four consecutive races. We managed this within a few weeks of buying the game. For the grueling All Cup Tour, however, we need to finish first in sixteen consecutive races. We've had the game since Christmas, and we still have not accomplished this goal. The amount of skill required is nothing to scoff at, but once you add seven computer opponents using red shells, undodgeable blue shells, and completely unanticipated lightning, the amount of sheer probability you're up against is staggering. Not only do you have to do everything right to win, but also the computer karts must play "nice", or squabble amongst themselves while you steal the glory.

We were four or five races in when my least-favorite course (Waluigi Stadium) came up. I drove it perfectly; the computer opponents never got a look at me after the second lap. Erica's gunning was sublime.

We were ten races in when I drove Donkey Kong Mountain (my second-least-favorite) extremely well; Erica managed a bank shot with an unguided green shell that effectively shut down our closest opponent. She honked the horn as we drifted across the finish line. Ten perfect first-place finishes, and all of the truly hard races complete.

Another digression: since we are pursuing a perfect game, we typically quit whenever we come in second. Second place is only worth eight points out of ten. Our standing top score right now is 156 out of a possible 160. That's two second-place finishes in a string of sixteen races. We so rarely come in third that it doesn't really bear thinking about.

We are fourteen races through, and still easily beating everything they send us. The course is Mario Circuit. We've done every tough race; it's a cake walk from here on out. Mario Circuit is one of my favorites, actually, because the corners lend themselves to coordinated power slides (each player has an important role in a power slide - you can gauge how well two people work together by how precisely they power slide). That course and Yoshi Circuit are courses on which I always say, to the Gamecube, "you must respect my cornering." I always beat the computer on these courses. Always. Even if it's with a hair's-breadth power slide on the last turn of the race, I always win.

You can already see it coming, can't you? Can't you? But what makes a suspense story work is this: you know I didn't win that fourteenth race, but you don't know what went wrong. You can't know. I've planted the seeds, but you can't see it coming.

No shit, there I was. Halfway through the last lap of Mario Circuit, neck and neck with two other karts. My second-favorite hairpin (a downhill left turn on dirt, into a 90-degree right turn) is visible up ahead. I pull the left trigger, begin sliding left, and immediately the blue sparks shoot up from my tires in a fiendish rooster tail. I release the slide and accelerate clear of the pack. I enter a second slide to the right, drifting through four or five item boxes. I've got my item (Erica's holding it, at the ready, because she sees how close the race is): we're holding a mushroom, a nitrous turbo boost. A short S-turn left-and-right, then a 90-degree left turn over a bridge, and we've won. This race is close, but not the closest we've won this evening.

S-turn. Goombas to the left of me, goombas to the right. I pull the trigger to start the last power slide left. Erica is waiting to punch the mushroom and launch us over the stone bridge. A white picket fence looms in front of us and I yank the stick to the left to execute that last turn... and the fence keeps looming. Our speedometer drops, and we coast to a pleasant but terrifying stop against the fence. The controls are not responding. In a blind panic, I punch the START button to pause the game, but the light on my controller is out. I toggle the power switch on my controller. No luck. The batteries in my Wavebird are dead. I lunge forward, swapping her controller for mine, and she pauses the game.

We're against the fence, though. We must have taken three, four... possibly five whole seconds to pause. We just sat there. We replace the batteries with a sense of dread. We unpause, correct our course, and sputter across the finish line... in fourth place. Fourth. Place. Six points out of ten. We are not only going to miss our perfect game, but we have, in a single stroke, dropped under our top score. There is no doubt in my mind that we would have won that race.

We ran the last two races anyway. My head wasn't in the game, and we came in third place on Rainbow Road to end the evening. Our total time was almost a minute faster than our previous record, but our score was a shameful 152. I'm going to pick up some fresh batteries on the way home tonight. I want a rematch.

Please-give-me-back-my-column-I'm-sorry-I-flaked-out-on-you editorial for my uni paper about the electoral college. Comments appreciated.

In a documentary about reporters covering the 2000 presidential race, the representation of the weeks following November 2nd, when courts ruled and Florida politicians applied makeup and the nation obsessed about chads (and not the war-torn African nation where the attention might have done some good), was a single minute of video in which the sound of news reports was overlaid on a clip of a pigeon eating a burger, in fast motion. The point was that the reporters were too burnt out to care -- however dutifully they covered the events, their off-time was spent autisticly filming wildlife eating their food -- but it might as well have been that the whole thing was really amazingly stupid.

Wait, wait! I know your objections; don't leave yet.

First, you think it's pointless to write (or read) an editorial about this electoral fluke in 2004, when all but MoveOn.org has forgotten and the nation is beset with unemployment, terrorism, and/or administrative suck. Consider, Adlai Stevenson fans: it could happen again. The popular and electoral pluralities could again be different; the winner could once again lose. 4 years ago Gore's national popular victory (of only a couple hundred thousand, but a victory still) rested on unprecedented get-out-the-vote drives in inner cities, artsy suburbs, and other Democratic enclaves. But landslide blue state victories aren't any different, elector-wise, from skin-of-the-teeth squeak-throughs, and so therefore Dubya. Q.E.D.

(To be fair, there were plenty of camel back-breaking straws, from Nader costing Gore New Hampshire to Buchanan-backing butterfly ballots to poor districts' decrepit polling places, but there's no evidence some or all of those won't be back for a second run, along with troubles yet unimagined.)

Second, you may actually support the current regime, the Electoral College As We Know It. The College might have been useful when going to Detroit involved camels and cholera (and slaveowners wanted the votes of 3/5 their property without 3/5 of their property actually voting) but in a modern industrialized society it's absurd on its face.

The most common argument in the College's favor, the one regurgitated by high school civics teachers who think papal infallibility applies to the founding fathers, is that it protects the interests of people living in low-population states (by giving them more votes apiece). But geography is arbitrary: there are any number of ways to divide up the electorate. Punks in Ypsi have more in common with punks in Chicago than Ann Arbor frat boys, and punks are a small minority, too -- does that mean we should give them more votes as protection from the yuppie noise ordinances and restrictive dress codes of an uncaring majority? I like NOFX, but I don’t think they should wield supreme electoral power.

More seriously, what about African-Americans? They’re solid, demographically; it's at least as hard (with rare exceptions) to change your apparent race as to move to another state. And they're not only a minority, but one that's been systematically oppressed for most (some would say all) of American history. Should we give them more votes? And if so, how many more -- the current system parcels out the extras semi-randomly on the basis of population density. Washtenaw county has more people than Wyoming but a small fraction of the electoral votes; if there was a mad cow outbreak on the eve of the election and 500,000 North Dakotans stayed home from the polls, the tiny cabal of zombie farmers who voted would control disproportionately massive political power. And who wants a zombie president?

A more nuanced objection to a straight popular vote (the norm in every other democracy in the world) focuses on the nature of the television market. 30-second TV ads have become central to American campaigning, and it's cheaper and easier to buy them once, in a large city, than 50 times at 50 different rural networks; hence, say the naysayers, candidates will pander to metropoli and shut out the townsfolk. Ignoring for the moment that cities are hugely heterogeneous and hardly comprise a faceless, monolithic constituency (similar-voting demographic groups are scattered like gerrymander static from sea to shining sea), is the only solution to the problem of an ad-obsessed campaign culture giving people in smaller TV markets more votes? It’s utterly, unwaveringly mad, head-explodingly backwards, something out of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Brazil.

It's mad, I tell you! Mad!

Democrat that I am, Kerry winning the electoral vote and losing the popular has appeal; maybe something would actually get done. But considering entrenched interests, terrifying Islamists with beards, and the quixotic difficulty of amending the constitution even when there's near-universal agreement that it's necessary (as with the last decade's several failed attempts to grant suffrage to people living in Washington, D.C.), I won't be holding my breath.

I don't expect much out of this daylog. I am just throwing out a post for my fellow noders to know what's going on in my life. This is a prayer letter I send out to people. Please don't feel pressed to donate. I don't expect anyone to.

Dear Friends and Family,

Hola! Blessing and the peace of the Lord! God is doing so many wonderful things in my life and in the lives of others.

I am writing to you to tell you about an exciting opportunity I have this summer, from June 1st to July 10th, to embark on a six-week mission trip through Central America with Christ for the City’s Ambassador program. I and around 15 other young people from around the country will meet in Costa Rica. I will leave, by myself, from to Costa Rica and in Costa Rica we will have orientation and then from there we will go around the surrounding area doing mission work. Mostly, we will be doing building projects and children’s work, but God will also guide us by His spirit in how to serve Him.

This is an opportunity of a lifetime for me to pursue a vision God has planted in my heart, a vision for multiple orphanages and children’s homes in the poorest countries in Central America; Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. I believe God has called me to the mission field and this is the start for Him to show me the path. I am also excited at a new opportunity to meet new people and see more of the world God has created.

I would be honored and blessed if you would accept the responsibility of praying for me as I go forth into unknown territory. The ways you can pray for me are:

  • - That the enemy would not have a foothold in any area of my life and that I would trust in God fully.
  • - This is a new experience for me and I am slightly nervous. Pray that all fear would be released from me and that any anxiety would be gone as well.
  • - Pray that God would bring in all the money I need. Currently, I must raise $1500 by May 15th (not counting my airfare). If you feel pressed to donate for this trip, you can send the money to the above address or to Christ for the City’s Office at
    Christ for the City International
    P.O. Box 241827
    Omaha, NE 68124-5827

Please specify that the check is for my trip and under my name.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please pray for me as I go into new territory. God be with you and bless you.

Ephesians 5: 1-2
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Your friend, Zach Perkins

Requiem for an appliance or What do you do with a drunken sailor, ear-lie in the morning?
I broke it. I broke it good. I thought I was being a clever git and I broke it. I was playing Fallout, and I had painted myself into a corner by saving over my game on the same spot, no history to jump back to.

As I stood with an empty plasma rifle steaming in the cold reactor room, boot squarely on the chest of my fallen super-mutant foe, I realized two things: I am out of ammo; I need to fight my way out of here.

The hideous tentacles and ravenous post-apocalyptic roaches knocked the plasma saw from my hands and stomped my armored body to a fine paste in short order. I was built for spraying lead, not hand to hand.

Game Over.



As I stood with an empty plasma rifle steaming in the cold reactor room, boot squarely on the chest of my fallen super-mutant foe, I realized two things: I am out of ammo; I need to fight my way out of here.

The hideous tentacles and ravenous post-apocalyptic roaches knocked the plasma saw from my hands and stomped my armored body to a fine paste in short order. I was built for spraying lead, not hand to hand.

Game Over.


No. Cheat.

Electronic warfare, thy name is Gameshark. Fuck you PS2! I r teh leet haXX0r!

I drop the disk in and fiddle with some codes. Infinite ammo. It rolls off the tongue. Infinities of lead...

I start the game and load the save...

As I stood with an empty plasma rifle steaming in the cold reactor room, boot squarely on the chest of my fallen super-mutant foe, I realized two things: I am out of ammo; I need to fight my way out of here.

Wait. No ammo? Goddammit! The cheat didn't work! I try again.

The hideous tentacles and ravenous post-apocalyptic roaches knocked the plasma saw from my hands and stomped my armored body to a fine paste in short order. I was built for spraying lead, not hand to hand.

Game Over.

Grr! Back to the Gameshark CD. I press the reset, having only now noticed the strange whirring coming from the CD drive. Like a computer with a bad disc.

Aw crap. Reading Disc blinks on the screen for 5 minutes. I mash the reset button about 60 times, like a Pavlovian rat dreaming of sweet cheese. I know it is pooched. Disk Read Errors, the black plague of Sony Playstation2's, has come home to roost. But my baby was so young... WHY GOD WHY!

Not one to shy away from voiding warranties or getting my screwdrivers dirty, I turn to the Interweb, the collected knowledge of 15 year olds worldwide. I fiddle in the guts for 4 hours, spinning various gears, checking voltages, wiping tiny lenses.

Alas, PeeEssToo was gone.

Rest in several pieces my friend.

(I will heartlessly purchase a replacement posthaste)

Andromache01 says My condolences on the loss of your dear friend, the PS2.
Brontosaurus says re April 8, 2004: Ah, fallout, one of my favourite games of all time... Sorry for your loss.

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